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OK, certainly Autodynamic's or Dearborn Automotive were not the only
one to do this, but they did it anyway. Everyone could not be a Manx
dealer, and when Alex D was told that he could not be a distributor for
Meyers Manx because it was already sold to others in the area, they
jumped on the bandwagon and came up with a new or modified version
of their own. The "Deserter" maintained the basic look of the classic
Manx design with some improvements outlined below.
So, how do you ID a Deserter Series 1 or what made it different from a
traditional Meyer's Manx and other clone dune buggy of the day:
- First, a Deserter uses a more stable 84 inch wheelbase VW pan not 80
in like most others. Note this is the same wheelbase for all Autodynamics
produced cars including the Autodynamic's Huster, a Lotus Elan inspired
kit car of the same time and the later second generation Deserter, the
- The Deserter S1 body was built with more rear wheel coverage and a
longer rear apron for improved engine coverage for the East Coast DMV
or the Registration laws at the time.
- A Deserter S1 will have a raised box surrounding the carburetor area,
again for more room and some weather coverage.
- A Deserter S1 will have a solid fiberglass, tuck under fiberglass dash
bonded to the hood that provided a solid mount for a steering column
- A Deserter S1 also had a front hood with an extra inch of clearance for
the gas tank and raised lip at the base of the windshield. This raises the
windshield two inches over other cars and provided more rigidity to the
hood. Because of this, windshields are typically shorter than most clones.
- A Deserter S1 originally came with a round recess in the very front of
the hood for the Deserter emblem. It should be noted that this was often
filled in during a restoration if the emblem had been lost, so it's not the
- Finally, the most obvious clue, a Deserter will never have that terrible
fake spare tire well behind the driver found in the Meyers Manx and
clones. Instead all Deserters (S1 & GT) will have two box shaped
compartments, one for a battery and the other for storage. This area is
the least likely to have changed, so this is by far the easiest visual way to
tell if you really have a Deserter.
Altogether, nothing radically different from the lines of the iconic Bruce
Meyers design, but small changes and improvements over the original
design that might have kept the copyright police away and satisfied local
laws at the time? Remember, the Manx had been deemed illegal in MA
and other states due to inadequate engine and tire coverage.
Autodynamic's and Dearborn had good capacity, a very good product
and offered a very complete line of accessories. Overall, a pretty nice
package that differentiated this all-weather buggy from those without
Production ran from 1967 to 1969 and this body was also used for the
basis of the new exciting mid-engined GS chassis kit from
Autodynamic's. To date, while plenty of rear engine Series 1 cars exist,
only 10 mid-engined GS cars have been located built with the Series 1
Total production of Autodynamic's Series 1 bodies has been estimated at
802* pieces, the majority home built. I believe there are plenty more
S-1's to be identified out there, but to many, it's just simply a dune buggy.
* Production numbers as quoted in "the dynamics of autodynamics"
article by David Kaplan in Dec72 SCCA Sports Car magazine.
The Deserter Owners Group
Deserter Series 1
(the Dune Buggy for the North East)